The White Tower

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The White Tower located on the waterfront in Thessaloniki, Greece the capital city of the province of Macedonia in northern Greece. The tower is a Byzantine fortification that dates back to the 12th century but was reconstructed by the Ottomans and used a notorious prison where mass executions took place. The tower now houses a permanent exhibition organized by the Museum of Byzantine Culture that depicts life in Thessaloniki throughout time. This collection includes sculptures, frescoes, fragments of mosaic floors, wall mosaics, icons, coins inscriptions, pottery, glass and metal items.

 

The Museum website is www.mpb.gr/html/en/pirgos.htm

Mount Nemut

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Commagene was a small state in the south central region of what is known modern Turkey between the Taurus Mountains and the Euphrates river. Commagene had been a part of the Seleucid Empire then became on independent kingdom in 163 BC which was maintained until AD 17 when it was made a Roman Province.

In 62 BC, King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene built a royal tomb on top of Mount Nemut with huge statues of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian, and Iranian gods. Today the heads of these statues have fallen and lay strewn around the base of the complex. Pictured below are some of these heads with Greek facial features and Persian hats. Because of Commagene’s location it was influenced by Greek civilization, as well as Armenian, and Iranian culture. Today this site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

The Illyrians

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The Ancient Illyrians were an Iron Age people who were not unified as a people but comprised several independent tribes. The boundaries of the ancient Illyrians were never clearly identified however Illyrian sites have been identified in the land that once comprised the modern state of Yugoslavia: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia; as well as, parts of Italy, southern Hungary, western Romania, western Bulgaria and northwestern Greece.

The Illyrians farmed the land and grew wheat and millet. They raised livestock such as pigs, sheep and goats. Cattle and horses were raised by only a few Illyrians. Their diet was supplemented by hunting which they conducted with the bow and arrow. They mined for metals and crafted iron weapons which they used to pillage and plunder. Greece and Roman sources identify the Illyrians and a fierce war-like people. The men dressed in tunics as did the women who also wore clocks and head scarf’s. Totemism was important to their religion. There was a cult of the sun in the north and a cult of the serpent in the south.

Moors Rock

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Iberia was part of the Megalithic culture of the New Stone Age which constructed impressive dolmans, and other megaliths. The dolman “Moors Rock” in Galicia, Spain is just one example of the remains of this prehistoric culture.

The Venus of Moravany

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The Venus of Moravany, pictured here, is a small female figurine made of mammoth ivory which was ploughed up by a farmer in the village of Moravany nad Váhom, Slovakia. The Venus dates to 22,800 BC during the Upper Paleolithic period, the most recent period of the Old Stone Age and is on display at the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia.

 

Picture by Martin Hlauka – taken on June 27, 2005.

Cromlech

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A Cromlech is a Byrthonic or Breton/Welsh word used to describe a chamber tomb. There are around fifty Cromlechs in Wales.

The Reunification of Germany

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Nothing divided Germany both literally and figuratively than the Berlin Wall which was built in 1961 as a barrier to keep East Germans from fleeing to West Germany. This multilayered structure of concrete and barbed wire separated the communist state of East German from the booming free market of West Germany. The Wall started to be torn down in 1989 even before German had officially reunified. Today little remains of the Wall. What’s left of the dismantled Wall today is a symbol of German unification.

What Remains of the Napoleonic Era

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France has Napoleon to thank for many of her landmarks. The famous Louvre Museum was converted from a palace to a museum in October of 1750 to display art, much of which was looted by Napoleon during his campaigns. Napoleon introduced a grand building program for Paris which included the Hôtel des Invalides a retirement home for veterans. The tomb of Napoleon is near by at Les Invalides.

Ambras Castle

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Ambras Castle located in Innsbruck, Austria is pictured below. It was the residence of Ferdinand II from 1563 when he had an existing fort on the site converted into a Renaissance castle until 1595.Today the castle is a major tourist site and contains an armory and Habsburg Portrait Gallery to view, as well as parts of the original castle.

El Escorial

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In 1563 Philip II began construction on El Escorial (his palace) and the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real both are located at the same site 28 miles northwest of Madrid. Today this is a major tourist destination and a World Heritage Site. Aside from the Palace and the Monastery with it spectacular domed Basilica there are burial sites for most of the Spanish kings of the last five centuries Bourbons as well as Habsburgs; a Hall of Battles with fresco paintings depicting the most important Spanish military victories; an Art Gallery includes masterworks by Titian, El Greco and Spanish artist from other periods of history. It also includes an Architectural Museum, Gardens of the Friars, a Library with more than 40,000 volumes including priceless manuscripts and one of the largest reliquaries in all of Catholicism. The monastery once belonged to the Hieronymite monks and is today an Augustinian monastery.